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Are new local services enough to serve needs of homeless?

Springs Rescue Mission opens new resource center

Homeless find new services at Springs Rescue Mission

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Springs Rescue Mission in Colorado Springs has opened a new resource center for the homeless, but is it enough to meet the needs of that community?

The center allows homeless people to have sleeping, dining, showering, laundry and other services under one roof, instead of dealing with transportation needs that limit access to those services.

But is it enough to meet what's needed, when the city has an estimated 1,500 homeless people?

"It's a start," said Travis Williams, the SRM's vice president of advancement.  "The number of people who say they've been homeless for a long time is increasing.  Around 70 percent are from Colorado Springs and there could be as many as 70,000 people at risk because they live at or below the poverty line."

Williams said the center makes it easy for the homeless to know where to go for help.

"It's going to eliminate confusion about where to go to get the right kind of services," he said.

Local agencies also want to go beyond immediate needs and focus on long-term strategies to get people permanently out of homelessness.

The SRM plans to break ground in November on a 65-unit low-income apartment complex to be built by Nor'wood, a local developer.

"I was excited to hear about it," said Steve Posey, the city's housing program administrator.  "The city is investing $500,000 into that.  We have more units in development or coming online than we've ever had before.  There will be over 540 new affordable housing units by the end of next year.  We ought to have several thousand units.  But we're making progress."

Posey said the city also invested $3 million in grand funds for the SRM expansion.

The new services are a big help to people like Larry Tayon, 51, who said he's dealt with homelessness for 32 years.

"I've been in and out of prison and jail," he said.  "I've been sick.  But I'm getting better and here I have someone to help me look for work, and I have clothes to look presentable for a job interview.  If not for these services, I'd have to try and use public transportation.  If you can't walk and don't have a bicycle, it's hard to get around."

Meanwhile, plans for a new kitchen, dining hall and welcome center at the SRM are on hold because donations to pay for those facilities have been slow.

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